Tentacular Tales: Can’t Help Falling in Love with an Alien – Chloe Archer
Working for the Alliance is a sci-fi nerd’s dream–aka mine–come true. I’ve even won the heart of my grumpy-sexy alien boyfriend. Nothing can bring me down, baby. I’m walking on freaking sunshine! Except now one of Kai’s douchey AF exes decides to turn up like a bad case of crabs. I don’t trust him one bit. But I’ve got even bigger problems to worry about. Like helping some awesome aliens in trouble, and maybe moving in with Kai, who’s totally going to propose any day now—right? Oh, and my shady relatives might be hiring an assassin to take me out. So, you know, a day in the life of River Sullivan. I’m sure everything’s going to be fine. Won’t it?
We’ve finally got a new lead on the drug dealer targeting extraterrestrials on Earth. But the more we unravel in this investigation, the less I like it. Outside of work though, things are going amazingly well with my adorable mate–dear galactic gods, how did that happen? But with an ex back in my life and wanting to be friends, and the threat of a potential assassin looming, things are getting a little complicated. I love River with both my hearts—and all five tentacles—but even I’m worried I might not be able to protect him from the dangers ahead. Also, I need to figure out how the heck I’m going to propose to him. River deserves something “epic,” and I don’t want to let him down. Am I going to be able to deliver?
Can’t Help Falling in Love with an Alien (Tentacular Tales #2) is a (116,000 words) M/M sci-fi rom com and the second book in the series. It should be read in chronological order. This installment features a pajama party date that will go down in infamy, inappropriate team t-shirts, a half-baked love poem, more Captain Starblade and Lord Vardox, drunken shenanigans courtesy of spaceship moonshine, unexpected mating instincts, plenty of new aliens with problems for River to solve, and tentacles galore. And possibly an epic proposal? This book has an HFN ending and no cheating. Never fear—there is a guaranteed HEA by the end of the series!
Can’t Help Falling in Love with an Alien, Book 2 of Tentacular Tales, continues the tentacular shenanigans of interspecies couple River Sullivan and Captain Kai Genaro. It picks up after the events of the second book, where the Alliance is working on the case of drugs being smuggled and illegally used on the resident aliens of Las Vegas. It also moves Kai and River’s relationship forward.
I’m on the fence with this second book. I understand why the author went with the direction the story went. It makes sense to follow River’s career in the Alliance, as well as clues to his alien heritage, not to mention the riveting, super epic love/hate affair between Captain Starblade and Lord Vardox. It takes a special kind of genius to make me more excited about a fictional couple written by a fictional character than the actual MCs of the story.
And I enjoyed watching River deploy his crazy ideas to help aliens integrate better in human society. The fact that he genuinely wants to help the displaced aliens, and his ideas are ingenious and effective are points in his favor.
But I also want the series to follow a different couple per installment. I am dying to read about the notorious playboy Mel winning over the demisexual Big Lebowsky, Uncle Benjie. And the petite but spicy twink, Evan, seducing the hulking blue virgin alien, Zion.
I am sad to say the book was too long with a saggy middle I struggled to go through. And because I am extra bitter about recent anxiety-inducing events in my work-life, I am not happy with how Kai is frequently put in embarrassing situations supposedly in the name of love. I sympathized with Kai at how even his mother relishes her son’s humiliations. All because he’s the introvert of the family, and introverts are always being forced out of their shells.
Kai is a grump but he’s a good guy. It was endearing how he wants to be a better person for River. Personally, I think it is River who should learn to reign it in sometimes. (Again, don’t mind me. I am just tired of loud people right now.)
Happily, the story picked up at the third arc. The Magic Mike climax really brought the energy up several notches. Those multi-colored aliens sure knew how to bring the house down! This is why I love River’s wacky ideas!
Can’t Help Falling in Love with an Alien is an entertaining sequel (especially when I am in a better frame of mind). I’m in it for Kai and the rest of the not-so-loud characters, humans and aliens alike. Most especially the hotter-than-blue-stars romance between Captain Starblade and Lord Vardox. It’s a book that needs to be written, and its going to be out of this world! So please, please, please write it, Chloe Archer!
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love
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Stolen Hearts: Hex and the City by Nazri Noor
Leon Alcantara is a real son of a witch. The last in a proud line of witches, he’s come to test his small magic in the big city. Stealing enchanted artifacts pays the rent, but the competition is fierce. And handsome. And great at magic, too. But Maximilian Drake and his dark, brooding glances are the least of Leon’s problems. A chain of anomalies surges through the city, strange distortions in reality that threaten both Dos Lunas and its people. Suspected by the arcane authorities, Leon is forced to work with his nemesis to clear his name. But Max is so secretive over his shrouded past. Can he even be trusted? Leon must decide before the anomalies destroy the city — and his entire life.
Nazri Noor quickly became a go-to author since A Touch of Fever back in 2021. Many of his books are urban fantasies set in an alt-universe centered around a magical Black Market that moves all over the globe and beyond.
His latest series, Stolen Hearts, is another urban fantasy. I haven’t heard mention of the infamous Black Market, but I’m pretty sure it’s set in the same universe.
Book 1, Hex in the City, stars the feisty Leonardo Alcantara, green carded into the US from the Philippines by his mother. Leon comes from a long line of bruha or witches, the magic passed on from women to women. He is the first witch boy and, so far, the last Alcantara.
A winning combination of spells, street smarts and naivety, Leon currently ekes out a living as a finder, moving from city to city where there is work. In one heist, he butt heads with another finder, the tall, dark, and broody Maximillian Drake, who is also after the magical object he’s tasked to find.
Dos Lunas is a city with a magical underground and many magical law-enforcement agencies, one of which are the Masks. As you can guess, their agents wear certain types of masks depending on their rank, and I immediately wanted to be one when I grow up. Another group that fascinated me are the Spiders, information mongers who dole out jobs to finders like Leon and Max.
One very intriguing aspect are the old magical families like the Brilliantes, powerful and influential enough to be given a lot of leeway by the Masks. The characters have different types of magic as well. Leon’s traditional magic can amplify what is already there. Later, he got a power boost courtesy of certain ancient entities. Max’s magic has something to do with crystals. His friend Tina is very handy with her machete, while the Jade Spider lives and breathes secrets.
I find many of the author’s works fun but wordy. Here, his writing hit the sweet spot between the sass, the info-dump, and the rest of the elements. This is a fast-paced plot with fast-talking characters that skillfully balanced the romantic development, Leon’s Filipino background, the snarky dialogues, world-building, the mystery, and the high-octane, anime-style fight scenes that I am crazy about!
The only reason I didn’t give this a 5-star rating is that the romance on the generic side. I’ve already seen this style of rivals to lovers done in the author’s other books. Apart from that, Stolen Hearts offers a rich magical world I’d loved to get lost in, characters I’d love to hang out with, and more quests and adventures to conquer.
So yeah, Hex and the City would make a great onscreen series. And we all know fictional gay couples have the best and most devoted fandom. We already have angels and demons, princes and first sons, and of course, pirates. About time we have mages and witch boys, so please, if Netflix or anyone could turn this or any of the author’s books into an anime or live-action drama, it would be simply brilliant!
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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Shifter Scoundrels: Dangerous – Charlie Cochet & Macy Blake
New Paranormal Romance from Bestselling MM Authors Charlie Cochet and Macy Blake.
A grumpy lion shifter duke with secrets, a sassy human who knows nothing of the shifter world, and a fiery arrangement neither of them expected.
Cormac Donegan, Duke of Everard, is all too familiar with the perils of his shifter world, especially as a Dahlia, one of the dragon king’s elite spies. After a mission nearly costs him his life, Cormac is sidelined, healing and grieving his heavy losses. Then a different kind of trouble shows up on his doorstep, a human claiming to be his fiancé.
When Jason Reaves is nearly killed in a house fire, it becomes clear that someone is trying to murder him. With his already fragile health deteriorating, Jason’s only hope is to call in the debt a stranger owes his father– a favor that promises safety, protection… and marriage.
Jason’s escape leads him and his service dog, Mouse, to an impressive country estate. He’s expecting the older man who’d made the promise, not his ruggedly handsome son–who happens to be a Duke, as in rich and royal.
Will this Cinderfella find his happily ever after in the arms of a dashing–if somewhat irritable–duke? Or will Cormac’s secrets prove to be more dangerous than the shifters hunting him?
Dangerous is the second installment of Charlie Cochet and Macy Blake‘s highly entertaining paranormal series, Shifter Scoundrels. After shocking the ton by bringing a human to the ball in Book 1, Notorious, the Duke of Everard, Cormac Donegan, and his fiance, Jason Reaves, set expectations high.
And they delivered!
The plot is an arranged marriage trope between the shifter duke and a human after a pledge by the old duke to Jason’s father years before. I have yet to experience the charms of Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy, but if comparisons between him and Cormac made Jason blush, well, I have to meet the guy ASAP.
Duke Everard is a black lion shifter whose bite is deadlier than his growl, and boy, does he love to growl. He’s secretly working as a spy, a member of the Dahlias, the king’s eyes, ears, and claws in the kingdom. He’s an honorable man and a stickler to duty. So much so that when a complete stranger showed up his doorstep claiming to be his fiance, with the old duke’s letter in hand promising protection, he was immediately determined to see it through.
Sad to say, Jason was my least favorite thing here. The man has to learn to shut up. His brand of sunshine and babble failed to charm me. His service dog Mouse, on the other hand, was adorable! Jason has Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), and throughout the story, when his illness manifests, he requires Mouse’s aid as well as the duke’s and his staff.
But our boy is no damsel in distress. A very admirable thing about Jason is that he’s very good at keeping his head even under extreme pressure. He might hyperventilate and be hypertensive, but our boy can still strategize, helping Cormac in the key parts of his mission. And he won the hearts of the two deadliest Dahlias, Lady Alia and Lady Marmont(?), as well as the rest of society.
The book delves deeper into shifter world, looking at it through human eyes via the Cinder-fella trope. Cormac is the type who would spoil his beloved Jason rotten, so I wished the authors laid on the luxury and opulence thick. Also, the leap from friends to lovers happened too quickly. We are just told they spent some time together before taking the leap. I wished we were shown these scenes more.
My gripes aside, Dangerous is another one-sitter. The romance was sweet and heartwarming enough, but like Notorious, it’s the rest of the story and the cast that really made my day. And with storytelling that kept me glued to the book, this sequel is a worthy addition to the magical alt-Regency paranormal world.
The series over-arching thread overlaps with some events from Book 1. This is a very intriguing mystery of who is behind the murder of the prince. The crimes keep coming, but we barely have clues. I have sworn to see this through the end.
The supporting cast was a riot, and I loved seeing familiar faces helped saved the day. The plot had most of the action at the last part, and this was full on mayhem and chaos! Thrilling car chases, explosions, and Cormac with the swag of Colin Firth in suit and umbrella.
Overall, this story of dangerous dukes, sassy humans, and royal shenanigans is well-written, fast-paced, snarky, and super fun! Definitely the talk of the town!
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
Beau’s book is next!
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